A church perspective on tax ‘competition’

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PresbyterianThe Presbyterian Church in the U.S. has put out a press release entitled “Tax Justice: A Christian Response to a New Gilded Age”.

As the report’s summary notes, it

“provides a framework for engaging in discussions about the large and growing concentration of income and wealth in U.S. society and about the tax structure as part of an agenda for addressing economic inequities.”

We have no religious affiliations of any kind, but we feel the report itself contains plenty of good sense, calling for tax systems to be based on progressivity, transparency, solidarity, sustainability and adequacy. But what is of interest here is that they weigh in directly on the issue of tax ‘competition’. For example, they recommend:

“reducing the use of tax expenditures, shelters and havens, and supporting more adequate international standards to reduce tax competition within and among nations
. . .
[a] communal sense of gratitude prompts measures to restrain jurisdictional tax competition (a “race to the bottom”) that beggars neighbors and makes it impossible for governments to address even the most pressing social needs.
. . .
States themselves should seek to reduce competition among their own cities, suburbs, and rural areas”

Our emphasis added. The report, written by a former World Bank economist, doesn’t contain anything that is analytically new. The reason we point to it is just to illustrate that initiatives that recognise these problems exist all over the place (see this, too, from the Uniting Church in Australia.) One of our goals is to try and stimulate debate and encourage more people to engage directly in this terrain.

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